Self Help

Quiet Leadership Six Steps to Transforming Performance at Work (David Rock)

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Matheus Puppe

· 47 min read



Here is my 510-word summary of “Six Steps to Transforming Performance

at Work” by David Rock:

Quiet Leadership is a practical, 6-step guide for leaders who want to improve employee performance through better thinking, listening, speaking and follow-up. It is based on recent discoveries about how the brain works.

The 6 steps are:

  1. Think About Thinking: Leader helps employees think for themselves by focusing on solutions, stretching their thinking, accentuating the positive and focusing on process over content.

  2. Listen for Potential: Leader listens for employee’s strengths and potential, not just problems, using “active listening.”

  3. Speak with Intent: Leader speaks succinctly, specifically and generously to provide useful information that shapes employee’s thinking.

  4. Dance Toward Insight: Leader guides employee toward insights by setting “permission,” placing ideas in context, using thoughtful questions and clarifying new insights.

  5. CREATE New Thinking: Leader helps employee generate new ideas using the CREATE model: Current Reality, Explore Alternatives, Tap their Energy, putting a plan together.

  6. Follow Up: Leader follows up on outcomes, facts, emotions, encouragement, implications, learning and new goals from the interaction.

The human brain is a “connection machine” that wires itself through experiences. Changing how people think is easier and faster than building new neural pathways through willpower. Leaders can help create new neural wiring that drives better performance.

To improve thinking, leaders should first listen deeply without judgment to understand the employee’s mental model. Then, leaders can speak generously to stretch and expand employee’s thinking. The “dance of insight” between leader and employee toward new perspectives generates novel neural pathways that enable new performance. The CREATE model helps ignite employee’s energy and motivation around new possibilities. Effective follow up reinforces learning and sets new goals.

Does this look like an accurate summary? Please let me know if you would like me to clarify or expand on anything.

Here is a summary of the most important ideas from this decade-long process:

  1. The author developed a six-step approach to transforming performance and helping people improve their thinking. He found links between this approach and neuroscience, which made the ideas more effective.

  2. The six steps are: 1) Think about thinking 2) Listen for potential 3) Speak with intent 4) Dance toward insight 5) Create new thinking 6) Follow up.

  3. The six steps are useful at all organizational levels, from CEOs to line managers. They can be applied in any situation where someone wants to improve another’s performance.

  4. The six steps can help leaders have fewer but more effective conversations with their teams. Inefficient conversations are a big problem in organizations.

  5. Today, knowledge workers are paid to think, not do physical labor. But management models still focus on process improvement, not thinking improvement.

  6. Employees are better educated than ever, so leaders need to improve thinking among brilliant minds, not just execute processes.

In summary, the author’s decades-long process resulted in a six-step approach to transforming performance by improving thinking. The six steps integrate neuroscience and have proved effective at all levels of organizations. They can help solve the problem of inefficient conversations and thinking in the workplace, even as employees become more knowledgeable.

Here is a summary of the key points in the passage:

  1. The brain is essentially a “connection machine.” All of our thoughts, memories, skills and abilities come from complex networks of connections and pathways in the brain.

  2. These neural connections and networks are like complex maps. They contain a vast amount of information about the associated concept.

  3. When we learn something new, our brain either connects it to existing maps or creates new maps. These maps then literally become part of who we are.

  4. The brain likes to find order and make connections. This helps us make sense of information and predict outcomes. Our ability to predict is one of our most distinguishing features.

  5. The brain is constantly creating new connections and maps to form “metamaps.”

In summary, the key idea is that the brain’s most fundamental functionality lies in forming connections and networks of information. All of our abilities and knowledge ultimately come from these neural maps and connections.

Here’s a summary of the key points from the passage:

  1. The brain has an almost unimaginable level of complexity, with 100 billion neurons and up to 100,000 dendrites per neuron. This leads to an astronomical number of possible connections.

  2. This means there are unlimited ways that brains can store and encode information.

  3. People tend to perceive and understand the same situation in very different ways. This is because our brains are substantially different.

  4. Although our brains look similar, the way we store, organize and retrieve information is as different as two computers used by different people for decades.

  5. When trying to help others think through a problem, we often make the mistake of assuming their brain works the same as ours. We input the problem into our brain and propose the solution that would work for us, without realizing the other person’s brain is wired differently.

  6. Doing the thinking for others is not only a waste of our own energy, but it prevents others from finding the right answers for themselves.

  7. Despite the remarkable differences in mental maps between people, we tend to live as if this is not the case. The author believes this insight could have major implications if truly accepted.

How’s that? Let me know if you’d like me to expand on or modify any part of the summary.

Here’s a summary of the key points in the provided text:

  1. The brain hardwires everything it can in order to make processes more automatic and efficient. Hardwiring moves thoughts from conscious attention into long-term memories and subcortical processes.

  2. Hardwiring creates habits that are unconscious and difficult to change. When people perform a job for a long time, much of it becomes habitual and automatic.

  3. Our automatic perceptions are shaped by our hardwiring. The brain tries to fit new information into existing mental maps and frameworks. If data doesn’t quite fit, the brain tries to force connections.

  4. The brain processes massive amounts of information by approximation. We see what we expect to see, rather than what’s actually there. This causes us to get things wrong at times.

  5. Our reality is determined by our brain’s interpretations of inputs, not by objective facts “out there.” Our automatic perceptions are driven by hardwiring. Some of this wiring is short-term, some is deeper and more ingrained.

Here is a summary of the provided text:

  1. Our habits, thoughts and skills are based on complex neural connections in the brain that are difficult to predict and often embedded subconsciously.

  2. These neural connections shape how we see the world and make choices, without our conscious awareness.

  3. In order to improve performance, we need to change people’s brain connections.

  4. However, it is almost impossible to directly alter hardwired connections in the brain.

  5. When we try to “unwire” a habit by looking for its roots and links, we end up strengthening those connections instead.

  6. Simply telling ourselves to “stop it” also fails because the wiring is so firm.

  7. A better approach is to leave the existing wiring alone and focus on creating new wiring instead. This is how the brain naturally forms new habits.

  8. Creating new wiring requires building new neural connections, which can be challenging at first.

  9. This insight, combined with the fact that creating new wiring is actually easy, forms the basis for improving performance and changing thinking in the workplace.

  10. Attempting to “fix” people’s thinking by finding what’s wrong with it will not be very productive. A whole new approach is needed.

Here is a summary of the recent discoveries about the brain that change everything:

  1. The brain was designed to change. The brain constantly rewires itself in response to new experiences, learning and environment.

  2. New habits don’t take that long to form. Through repetition and reinforcement, new behaviors and neural connections can be created surprisingly quickly, within days or weeks.

  3. Positive feedback is essential for forming new habits. The brain needs encouragement and reinforcement to cement new neural connections and make them last.

  4. Providing reminders helps. It’s difficult to remember to form new habits on our own. Getting support and reminders from others can help.

  5. The brain prunes unused connections. Neural pathways that are not used tend to weaken over time. To change habits, stop giving attention to old behaviors and focus on new ones.

  6. The key is to focus on developing new solutions, not fixing problems. Helping people identify new behaviors and habits they want to develop is more effective than simply trying to fix or change what they’re currently doing.

  7. The role of leaders is to enable insights and new thinking in others, then provide ongoing support and belief as they form new habits. This is a more effective use of time and energy.

In summary, understanding how the brain changes and forms habits can help us develop more effective strategies for improving performance and transforming behavior. The focus should shift from problem solving to enabling insights and supporting the development of new solutions.

Here is a summary of the key points in the text:

  1. The first step to being a Quiet Leader is to focus on improving people’s thinking, not what they think about.

  2. The most important principle is to let people do their own thinking, rather than telling them what to do. This allows them to generate their own solutions.

  3. Keep people focused on solutions to make conversations useful. Dwelling on problems is less helpful.

  4. Stretch and challenge people to open up their thinking, but also focus on their strengths to grow them. Do both at the same time.

  5. Have a clear process in conversations to make it easy for people to think.

  6. Telling people what to do, even if successful, limits their ability to think for themselves and generate their own solutions. Instead, enable them to learn from within.

  7. The five elements together form Step 1: Think About Thinking. The key is to master this step before moving on to the others.

In summary, Step 1 focuses on improving how people think, rather than what they think about. The approach is to let people do their own thinking, focus on solutions, stretch while also focusing on strengths, and have a clear conversational process - all to enable people to learn from within themselves.

Here are the key takeaways from the section:

  1. A self-directed approach to improving performance involves helping people come up with their own answers and solutions, rather than telling them what to do.

  2. There are 5 reasons why this is effective:

  • People still need to make their own connections. You can’t think for them.

  • You won’t guess the right answer for that person. Everyone’s brains work differently.

  • It allows people to generate their own energy from new insights.

  • It takes less mental effort than thinking for someone else.

  • It’s faster than giving advice or coming up with suggestions.

  1. There is a ladder of approaches, from fully self-directed to partially self-directed:
  • Approach 1: Help the person make new connections on the spot through questions.

  • Approach 2: Help them devise a plan to find the answer on their own later.

  • Approach 3: If the first two don’t work, provide an answer but frame it as a suggestion and check how the person wants the information presented.

  1. The key is to focus your energy on helping the person think, rather than focusing on the issue itself.

Does this align with your understanding of the key points from the section? Let me know if you have any other questions.

Here are the main takeaways from this chapter:

  1. Focusing on solutions immediately creates positive energy and opens up ideas and possibilities, while focusing on problems leads to the past, blame, and draining mental energy.

  2. Solutions focus helps people think better and reach their potential, rather than just addressing causes of problems.

  3. We have the ability to choose our mental “frame” and consciously focus on solutions instead of problems through discipline.

  4. Focusing on solutions helps problems fade into the background as solutions develop, creating an upward spiral. Attention shapes our brain and who we become.

  5. A solutions focus requires responsibility, action, and discipline, not just optimism. It means analyzing the way forward, not problem causes.

  6. Quiet Leaders develop the discipline to catch themselves getting problem-focused and refocus on solutions.

The key takeaway is that focusing people’s thinking on solutions, rather than problems, is an effective way to improve their performance and potential. With practice, it becomes a mental habit that shapes our own thinking in a positive way.

Does this look like an accurate summary of the chapter? Let me know if you’d like me to adjust or expand on anything.

  1. Changing behavior and transforming performance is difficult because it requires stretching people out of their comfort zone. People tend to resist change.

  2. When people try something new, they go through phases of incompetence, competence, and finally mastery. It is normal for them to feel frustration and discomfort in the early phases.

  3. Leaders can help by normalizing people’s struggles and providing positive feedback and encouragement. This can help people persist through the difficult phases.

  4. As a society, we tend to value comfort and avoid discomfort. There is a cultural aversion to stretching ourselves and others.

  5. People are more willing to stretch others than themselves. Leaders need to get comfortable making people feel uncomfortable in order to improve performance.

  6. Stretching people means taking them to the edge of their comfort zone and beyond. This can expose limitations but also unlock potential.

In summary, transforming performance requires leaders who can stretch people by taking them out of their comfort zones. The leader’s role is to normalize discomfort, provide encouragement, and help people persist through the difficult yet necessary phases of change.

Here is a summary of the key points in the passage:

  1. People are often their own worst critics and self-criticize far more than they give themselves positive feedback. On average, people get only a couple minutes of positive feedback per year.

  2. Criticism rarely helps improve performance, as employees react positively to criticism only about 1 in 13 times.

  3. Our thinking drives our behaviors and emotions, which in turn impact our performance. Negative self-criticism affects our thinking and interferes with performance.

  4. The story of Tim Gallwey teaching a woman to play tennis in 30 minutes demonstrates the power of positive feedback and focusing on solutions rather than instruction. His formula “performance = potential - interference” shows how self-doubt and fear interfere with performance.

  5. Providing positive feedback and quieting the inner critic can make a big difference to people’s confidence and abilities, improving their performance.

In summary, the key message is that positive feedback and accentuating peoples’ strengths and potential, while minimizing negative self-criticism, can significantly improve thinking and performance. Quiet leaders understand the importance of focusing on solutions and providing ample positive feedback to those they lead.

Here is a summary of the key points in the text:

  1. Putting process before content means having clear objectives, plans and milestones to track progress and give positive feedback. At the macro level, this means setting goals for the year. At the micro level, it means planning the success of each dialogue to improve performance.

  2. Establishing good process for dialogues by defining expectations upfront helps ensure the conversations are useful and focused. Examples of good process include:

  • Clarifying roles in the dialogue
  • Agreeing on how long each person will speak
  • Agreeing on the outcome and goal of the conversation
  • Connecting the conversation to broader goals
  • Stating perspectives and positions clearly upfront
  1. By putting process before content, establishing clear expectations and defining objectives, leaders can have more effective and focused dialogues that result in actually improving performance.

So in summary, the key takeaway is that planning the “how” of conversations and feedback through good process helps ensure the “what” of actual content and outcomes leads to performance transformation. Process helps optimize content.

Hope this summary helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.

Here’s a summary of the key points in this section:

  1. Avoid giving advice. Simply giving advice to someone rarely helps them solve their own problems.

  2. Listen for potential. Focus on seeing possibilities in what the other person is saying, rather than jumping straight to advice or criticism.

  3. Use open questions. Ask questions that start with “what”, “how”, “when”, etc. to draw out the other person’s ideas and potential solutions.

  4. Manage your own filters and agendas. Be aware of any biases or preconceptions you have that could limit how you listen and understand the other person.

  5. Focus on the person, not the problem. Listen empathetically to better understand the whole context behind what the other person is saying.

  6. Reframe negative statements. Rather than reacting to complaints or negativity, try to reframe the person’s concerns in a more positive and constructive way.

  7. Stay curious. Maintain an open, curious mindset as you listen to gain new insights and possibilities you hadn’t thought of before.

In summary, listening for potential means setting aside your own thoughts and instincts in order to truly hear what the other person is expressing - both what they say and leave unsaid. This allows you to identify possibilities for growth, improvement and solutions that the person themselves may not see at first.

  1. Listening for potential is an effective way to actively listen to people and maximize their performance. It involves assuming people have the answers and tools they need within themselves, and seeing how you can support them to think through things.

  2. When you listen for potential, you listen to people as though they are capable, competent and able to solve their own problems. This often helps them find their own solutions.

  3. The Clarity of Distance model identifies four mental frames that get in the way of listening effectively: details, filters, agendas and hot spots. Putting distance between these frames and ourselves can improve our natural intelligence and clarity.

  4. Distance from a situation, either physical or mental, can give us more objective perspective and allow us to recognize patterns more easily. This “clarity of distance” parallels Malcolm Gladwell’s concept of the power of our “blink” response from afar.

  5. Scientists require an observer - distance from what they study - in order to gain knowledge and understanding. Likewise, leaders benefit from gaining some distance to see situations more clearly.

In summary, listening for potential and gaining clarity of distance are effective techniques to support others and help maximize their performance. They involve assuming people’s capabilities, putting aside our own mental frames, and gaining some objective perspective through distance.

Here is a summary of the key points in the provided text:

  1. Quiet Leaders think about thinking and listen for potential in others. In step 3, the focus is on speaking with intent to maximize improving people’s thinking.

  2. Around 66% of the time, our communication intent does not match the impact. There is often a gap between what we intend to say and how others receive it.

  3. The quality of day-to-day conversations in many workplaces is poor. Teams often discuss issues superficially without delving deeper into the real issues.

  4. To speak with intent, we must be conscious of our own mental states and frames when communicating. We may be lost in details, misled by our filters, driven by an agenda, or caught up in emotions.

  5. When we notice where we are speaking from, we can then shift to listening for the other person’s potential and speaking in a way that they can best receive. Simply declaring our frames can improve communication.

  6. Speaking with intent requires effort but can improve performance by improving how people think and process information. Quiet Leaders are conscious of what may detract from speaking with intent and strive to overcome it.

That covers the main points discussed in the text regarding speaking with intent as a way to improve performance as a Quiet Leader. Let me know if you would like me to expand on or clarify anything within the summary.

Here is a summary of the key points in the text:

• Leaders need to communicate clearly to avoid misunderstandings that waste time.

• Being succinct and focused is important to engage listeners and transform performance. Speaking in 100 word phrases while thinking in 600 word phrases leads to listeners losing attention.

• There are three common communication patterns that hinder clarity: taking too long to speak, listeners misunderstanding, and using unclear language.

• Being succinct saves time and mental energy. It requires thinking through the core message and conveying it in as few words as possible.

• Using visual language and metaphors helps listeners form mental maps of the ideas, improving understanding. Visual processing is faster in the brain.

• Some examples show that conveying ideas in just one sentence can be enough for listeners to understand the key point.

• To be succinct, leaders need to stop and think through what they actually want to convey, instead of just speaking freely.

That covers the main ideas in the text regarding how being succinct can improve communication and transform performance. Let me know if you would like me to expand or modify the summary.

Here is a summary of the key points in the passage:

To transform performance, people need insights for themselves. Giving people space to form their own mental models of our ideas is the first step to change.

Being succinct means communicating in a concise manner using as few words as possible. But you have to know your subject matter well in order to be succinct.

Being specific means providing just enough detail so people understand exactly what you mean. You have to pay close attention to what others say and make an effort to accurately reflect their points. This builds trust.

Being generous means using words that have the biggest positive impact. It means putting yourself in others’ shoes and making sure they understand your message. It involves choosing words carefully, being sensitive, paying full attention, acknowledging people, and sharing your humanity.

Being succinct, specific and generous together means including all that’s relevant and leaving out the irrelevant. It provides a foundation for real change.

To speak with intent, you need to reflect, check in with yourself, and pay attention to your feelings. Then speak slowly enough to be honest. But you don’t have to do this constantly - focus on conversations aimed at improving performance.

Does this cover the main ideas in the passage? Let me know if you’d like me to clarify or expand on anything.

Here is a summary of the key points from Step 4: Dance Toward Insight:

  1. Quiet Leaders help people have insights for themselves. They don’t directly tell people what to do.

  2. Insights occur when people make new connections across existing knowledge.

  3. There are 4 faces of insight:

  • Awareness of dilemma - Seeing the problem clearly

  • Preparation - Gathering relevant information

  • Incubation - Stepping away to allow the unconscious mind to work

  • Illumination - The “Aha!” moment when the insight suddenly appears

  1. Quiet Leaders use techniques like permission, placement, questioning, and clarifying to facilitate insights in others. These create an environment where people can think better.

  2. Conversations that help people have insights transform performance more effectively than simply telling people what to do.

  3. Email guidelines can facilitate insights by keeping communications focused and brief. Emotional issues are best discussed by phone.

In summary, helping people have their own insights is a powerful yet gentle way for Quiet Leaders to transform performance and thinking in others. By creating the right conditions, Quiet Leaders act as catalysts for “Aha!” moments and new ways of thinking.

That’s a helpful way of conceptualizing how the insight process unfolds. And I think you’re right that when people tell us about dilemmas or problems, there is often an opportunity to facilitate insights and breakthroughs through our response. We just need to pay attention to the face the other person is showing at the time. If someone is in the reflection stage already, perhaps we could encourage that reflection without jumping in with our own thoughts just yet. And if they reach the illumination stage, it would be important to try to motivate follow-through actions as quickly as possible while that initial energy is still present.

Here is a summary of the key points about the Dance of Insight model:

• It is a four-part model to help people have insight conversations that lead to “aha” moments.

• The four parts are: permission, placement, questioning, and clarifying.

• Establishing permission at the start is critical. You need the other person’s willingness to engage in a deeper conversation.

• Permission comes in levels depending on your relationship and comfort level with the person. You need to check if it’s okay to move to a more personal level in the conversation.

• Asking for permission in a respectful way shows you value the other person’s time and mental space. It builds trust.

• Placement involves helping the person become fully engaged and aware of their dilemma.

• Questioning then occurs to get the person reflecting more deeply and making new connections.

• Clarifying ensures the person understands their own insights and thoughts.

• When applied well, the model allows you to facilitate insightful conversations while staying “invisible” and out of the way. The other person does the thinking.

• The four elements of permission, placement, questioning and clarifying can also be applied separately in other contexts.

Does this cover the main highlights from the passage regarding the Dance of Insight model? Let me know if you need any clarification or have additional questions.

Here is a summary of the key points regarding placement:

• Placement involves clearly defining where you are and what will happen in a conversation, to anchor both parties’ thinking and perspectives.

• It helps keep conversations on track, especially difficult or complex ones that could easily go off in different directions.

• When using placement, you explain things like: the scene, time, your role, goals, expectations, and what will happen in the discussion.

• Placement takes care of the “why, when, how, and who” of the conversation.

• It shows you care about the other person and sets up the possibility of having a productive dialogue.

• You can use placement at the start of a discussion, or repeatedly during a complex conversation to re-anchor it.

• Placement not only orients the other person, but also anchors your own intentions and focus for the discussion.

The key idea is that placement involves clearly framing and outlining a conversation in advance in order to focus both parties and set the stage for productive dialogue and insight. It helps guide difficult conversations and keep them on track.

Here’s a summary of the key points regarding questioning:

•Giving advice in question form is not a helpful approach. People are unlikely to actually follow advice from others, and their real issues may be different than what they initially describe.

•Focusing on the problem by asking questions about it is not the most useful approach. Quiet Leaders are interested in generating new insights, not just discussing existing problems.

•The best questions to ask are open-ended, thought-provoking questions that help stimulate new thinking and connections. These questions often start with “what if…” or “how might…”

•Asking these types of insightful questions can help people resolve their dilemmas by generating their own insights and aha moments. Ideas that people come up with themselves are more likely to be acted on.

•By asking insightful questions rather than giving advice, Quiet Leaders avoid having to come up with the answers themselves. This allows the other person to develop their own thinking abilities.

In summary, rather than focusing on advice-giving or problem analysis, Quiet Leaders aim their questions at stimulating novelty, creativity and new perspectives in the other person.

Here’s a summary of the key points regarding questioning in quiet leadership:

• Giving advice is not effective because the person does not generate their own solutions.

• Focusing on problems and asking for details just keeps the person stuck in the problems and does not help them think differently.

• Forcing people into action too soon can be annoying and premature.

• Telling people how they should think differently makes incorrect assumptions about what will help them solve their dilemma.

• Quiet leaders ask “thinking questions” that focus on the person’s thinking itself. This helps the person stand outside their mental forest and gain new insights.

• Thinking questions do not focus on details or problems, or tell the person how to think. They get the person to notice their own thinking.

• Example thinking questions include: “How important is this issue to you?”, “How satisfied are you with the amount of thinking you have given this issue?”, “Can you see any gaps in your thinking?“.

• Asking thinking questions allows the person to move into the reflection and illumination stages of insight, and generate their own solutions.

• While effective, thinking questions are not the only option in all scenarios. Sometimes listening without questions is best.

Hope this summary helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.

Here are the key highlights from this section:

  1. Clarifying is the final element in the Dance of Insight. It involves getting to the bottom line in a conversation and voicing the essence of what’s being said.

  2. Clarifying can help solidify and make tangible the insights that emerge from thinking questions.

  3. A story is told about a training session where the trainer spent the first day teaching facilitators about placement, questioning, and clarifying. The next day, when facilitators practiced these techniques, there were significantly more insights and “ahas”. This showed the power of clarifying in helping crystallize people’s nascent thoughts into concrete insights.

  4. When we clarify, we restate the other person’s answer in our own words to check our understanding. This helps that person reflect on and refine their thinking. It can also spur new ideas and connections.

  5. Clarifying makes thinking visible. By expressing someone’s thoughts aloud, it sheds new light on them and allows people to perceive gaps or new possibilities in their thinking.

  6. In summary, clarifying is a valuable tool for bringing about actionable insights. It helps cement and communicate people’s evolving ideas, allowing both parties to progress the conversation in a productive direction.

Mike, Sam from engineering is here …

Mike: Great, send him in please.

Sam walks into Mike’s office.

Mike: Sam, great to see you. I know things have been super busy in engineering lately, so thanks for making time to catch up. Let’s just chat for 20 minutes [Placement starts it off as usual.] to see if there’s any ways I can help make things run more smoothly in your part of the organization.


Sam: Thanks. Appreciate you listening … [Says this with relief.]

Mike: So how’s things been going since your team expanded? [General thinking question.]

Sam: Honestly? Not great. We’ve taken on so much work this last quarter but we keep running into issues I don’t fully understand. Product launches keep getting delayed, people are seeming overworked, and everyone seems stressed.

Mike: Sounds like a challenging stretch. [Clarifying acknowledges what’s been said.] Can you give me an example of one of the issues you’ve been running into? [More targeted thinking question to help Sam make better connections.]

Sam: Okay, one example. We’ve had so many product recalls lately that our department heads are all arguing about whose fault everything is, rather than just figuring out how to fix the problems for good. It’s becoming unhealthy.

Mike: So not working together as a team? [Further clarifying.]

Sam: Exactly.

Mike: Any ideas on how they could start collaborating more constructively? [Thinking question focused on solutions.]

Sam: Well … maybe if I first introduced a weekly 30-minute meeting where we just focus on problems together, and not on fault-finding … that alone could make a start … and I could get them to agree to check in with each other daily as issues come up …

Mike: Weekly meetings and daily check-ins sound like good ways to start building more collaboration. And just being conscious of this dynamic could open some eyes and motivate people. How about I come down next week for the first weekly meeting, just to reinforce the importance of teamwork, so you have my support? Would that help you here? [Offers to follow up, step five.]

The Six Steps to Transforming Performance 147

Sam: That would be amazing, Mike, thanks. The team would really appreciate seeing you take the time.

Mike: Good. Let’s build a habit of getting together every few weeks too, to make sure I’m doing all I can to remove blockers for you. The team is achieving some impressive things, and working together smoothly would help get the most out of everyone.

Sam: Absolutely. Well, this helps me a lot, Mike. Thanks for your time. I’ll email you the details of our first meeting.

Mike: Great. Let me know if anything comes up before then. My door is always open.

Notice what Mike focused on: helping his direct report think more clearly through thinking questions, assisting his own understanding through summarizing and clarifying what Sam said, then went straight into what follow-up he could commit to. Mike exemplified quiet leadership by keeping the focus on the other person, while still finding practical ways to support them. Most responses during the meeting were either clarifying, planning for the next conversation, or thinking questions, and the result will certainly impact performance: sometimes by simply listening well and giving people the space to think things through by themselves. Mike even honored Sam’s potential by asking how he himself could help more, then proposed some ideas that Sam himself had already touched on (the weekly meetings and daily check-ins). An insightful conversation was the first step in helping Sam get more from his team.

This process—Dance Toward Insight—has simplicity at its core, even though each element of the dance seems complex. But when combined effectively into one flow, the process is rather magical in how it directly impacts people’s thinking.

So remember:


■ Get permission respectfully.

■ Place the conversation with care.

■ Ask simple, powerful thinking questions.

■ Clarify what people say to help them think better.

■ Make one change through follow-up.

When you combine the steps of the Insight Dance well, you will unleash the insight in others simply through your generous intention, quiet words, and willingness to stay out of the way of their brilliance.

The Six Steps to Transforming Performance 149

Step Five: Follow Up with Focus

Here’s a summary of the key points from the provided text:

  1. The Dance of Insight is a framework for having conversations that help people think better, without telling them what to do. It consists of getting permission, placing the person, asking thinking questions, and clarifying answers.

  2. Following the steps of the Dance of Insight can help conversations go deeper and improve people’s thinking and performance.

  3. When people are lost in a conversation, it’s often due to lack of placement. When they’re stuck in details, the leader failed to clarify enough.

  4. The CREATE model builds on the Dance of Insight. It has three parts:

  • Explore the Current Reality to make people aware of their dilemma and have insights.

  • Explore Alternatives to ensure people don’t take the easiest path after an insight but find the best option.

  • Tap their Energy once people are energized and motivated but that energy needs to be channeled.

  1. The Dance of Insight is at the core of the CREATE model and is applied during each part.

That’s my summary of the key ideas presented in the text regarding the Dance of Insight and CREATE models for helping people think better. Let me know if you need any clarification or have additional questions.

Here is a summary of the key points regarding the Current Reality step in the CREATE model:

  1. Starting with the current reality enables people to reflect on their own thinking, which can generate insights. It allows them to identify patterns in their thinking without judgment.

  2. Asking questions about the frequency, duration, intensity, impact, longevity, and quality of a person’s thinking can help them understand it scientifically and see what to do with it.

  3. The current reality questions should focus on a person’s cognitive reality (their thinking) rather than just the details of their issue.

  4. Using metrics and numbers in questions can help people think more deeply and see connections. This includes scales from 1 to 10.

  5. Ask at least 5-10 current reality questions to generate insights. Don’t give up too quickly after only 2-3 questions.

  6. Watch for clues in a person’s facial expressions and tone of voice to know if you’re on the right track. Give them space when they go quiet as an insight may be brewing.

  7. Trust your instincts and gut. Follow the person’s energy and words to sense the next question that will be most helpful.

The key is to ask permission a lot but also dig in with multiple questions to help people identify and reflect on the nature of their current thinking around an issue. This forms a strong foundation for the rest of the CREATE steps.

Here’s a summary of the key points in the “Tap Their Energy” section:

  1. This phase has a “life of its own” because people are energized and motivated after having an insight or realization. The leader’s role is more to nudge and guide them into action.

  2. However, people’s motivation and energy can fade quickly, so the leader needs to help anchor insights in reality and make sure actions actually happen.

  3. This involves:

  • Helping people be more specific about the actions they’ll take. “Specificity equals response-ability.”

  • Setting deadlines while people are still motivated and likely to commit. Deadlines increase the chances insights will actually translate into real changes.

  • Having people report back, to keep them accountable.

  • Doing something tangible, like writing down a plan or creating a spreadsheet, to anchor the insight in reality.

  1. The key is to capitalize on people’s motivation and energy while it’s still flowing, by prompting them to articulate specific next steps and deadlines. This increases the chances that the insight will actually result in improved performance.

So in summary, the leader’s role in this phase is mainly to help make sure insights don’t remain just ideas, by encouraging accountability, specificity and deadlines to ensure actions are actually taken. Does this align with your understanding? Let me know if you have any other questions.

to help with the logistics.

Ellen: Great, so why don’t you arrange your event, let me know the date so I can talk to my directs to support this, and then follow up with me the day after to see if we need to think any more about how to get the team engaged on these targets more proactively? [Starting the follow up.]

Sue: Excellent. Thanks so much Ellen, your support means a lot. Let’s touch base tomorrow. We’ve really made progress here, I can already imagine how great the event will be. [Feeling positive and energized to take action.]

Ellen: Sounds great Sue. Good luck with it all. I’m looking forward to hearing how it goes.

Here is a summary of key ideas from the section on following up:

• Following up after a dialogue is important to support the creation of new long-term habits that improve performance.

• New insights generate new neural maps or circuits in the brain, but these are fragile and need attention, repetition, and feedback to become ingrained habits.

• The role of a leader when following up is to give the new maps attention and positive feedback, regardless of the level of task completion. This deepens any useful wiring that has been created.

• The FEELING model as a framework for following up includes:

  • FACTS: Getting objective facts about what actions were or were not taken, focusing on observable behaviors rather than reasons or excuses.

  • EMOTIONS: Checking in on how the person feels about their progress, to give the new circuits more attention and address any emotions that could interfere with learning.

  • ENCOURAGEMENT: Praising real efforts and progress made, not just outcomes. This gives the new wiring positive feedback.

  • LEARNING: Discussing what was learned from the process, to consolidate and strengthen the new maps in long-term memory.

  • IMPLICATIONS: Exploring how the insights could apply to other areas, spreading the value of the new wiring.

  • NEW GOALS: Setting a new goal or action plan to build on the progress made and keep the new wiring active.

Hope this summary helps! Let me know if you need any clarification or have additional questions.

Here’s a summary of the key points regarding following up with people after they complete an action:

  1. Check the facts of what they achieved. Focus on what happened, not why things did not happen.

  2. Ask about their emotions. If they had a positive experience, acknowledge that to reinforce the positive feelings. If they struggled, focus the conversation on moving forward.

  3. Generously encourage and acknowledge their efforts. Focus on what they did do, not what they didn’t. This helps cement new habits.

  4. Identify their key learning. Ask what they discovered about themselves or new habits that emerged. Focusing attention on the new wiring helps develop it further.

  5. Explore the implications of what they learned. This gives their new insights and wiring even more focus, further embedding the new circuits.

  6. Identify a new goal. The result of their learning and insights is often a new dilemma or goal that is more useful and interesting. This becomes the next thing to focus their efforts on.

In summary, following up helps people recognize, name and develop their new insights, wiring and habits, which becomes the foundation for further progress. The encouragement, acknowledgment and focused questions are critical parts of this process.

Here is a summary of the key steps Richard took to help Mark solve his problem:

  1. Richard got Mark’s permission before jumping into problem solving. He asked “Do you want to throw around a few ideas about this?”

  2. Richard thoroughly placed himself by stating “I’d like to ask a few questions and see if I can help you organize your thoughts here, rather than tell you what I think you should do.” This let Mark know Richard’s approach.

  3. Richard initially focused on solutions, not problems, saying “I want to focus more on solutions.”

  4. Richard used clarifying questions to define the central dilemma, focusing on “whether or not to fire Jeff, or whether to take another approach, or on how to manage the impact on the team?”

  5. Once the central dilemma emerged - firing Jeff with minimal pain - Richard got Mark’s permission again to explore the dilemma further.

  6. Richard placed the dilemma again to clarify, recapping “So you want to fire Jeff but want to do so with minimal pain for everyone.”

Overall, Richard’s approach allowed him to help Mark solve his problem without directly telling him what to do. Instead, Richard’s questioning and clarification helped Mark organize his own thoughts and identify a clear path forward.

Here are the summarized steps to help someone make a decision according to the article:

  1. Identify the central dilemma in as few words as possible. Understand the core issue the person is facing in making the decision.

  2. Ask thinking questions using the Dance of Insight model to help the person come to their own insights and clarity.

  3. Help them explore different mental frames they could apply to make the decision. Suggest frames like gut feeling, data-driven analysis, etc. But avoid making the decision for them.

  4. Avoid guessing at solutions. Let the person come to their own decision, even if you have a good suggestion. This builds their confidence and capability.

  5. Focus on improving the person’s ability to make difficult decisions on their own in the future. That’s a more sustainable outcome.

Some example questions you could ask:

  • How committed are you to making a decision soon?

  • How clear are you on the criteria for making this decision?

  • Which factors seem most critical in your view?

  • What processes have helped you make decisions like this in the past?

  • What are some mental frames you could try on to analyze this further?

  • What do you sense is the next step for you in determining a decision?

Hope this helps summarize the key ideas! Let me know if you have any other questions.

Here’s a summary of the key points around using the Six Steps to give feedback:

• Provide specific positive feedback whenever possible. Mentioning specific things the person did well has more impact than generic praise.

• Be generous with your feedback. Speak in a way that allows the other person to receive it, since many are uncomfortable with praise.

• The feedback sandwich is ineffective. Leading with criticism and then giving praise does not work well.

• Focus on behavior, not the person. Discuss what the person did well, not who they are.

• Emphasize improvement, not perfection. Focus on progress made and goals for the future.

• Ask open-ended questions. This can help the other person reflect on and internalize the feedback.

• Keep your ego out of it. The focus should be on helping the other, not asserting your own views.

• With poor performance, separate the behavior from the person. Criticize what was done, not who they are.

• Always end on a positive note. Leave the person feeling hopeful they can improve in the future.

In summary, using the Six Steps to give feedback can help you provide more specific, thoughtful praise and criticism that truly improves people’s performance and thinking. The key is focusing more on how to help the other person learn and grow.

Here are some key points for giving effective feedback for below-par performance:

• Avoid simply telling people what they did wrong - criticism is rarely helpful and often counterproductive. It triggers defensive reactions.

• Focus on helping the person gain insights for themselves. Let them come to their own conclusions about how to improve. This is more constructive and avoids defensiveness.

• Use the Six Steps framework to guide a helpful discussion:

  1. Create a safe space
  2. Listen deeply
  3. Reframe the problem positively
  4. Ask questions to help them gain insights
  5. Acknowledge strengths and good intentions
  6. Agree concrete next steps

• Focus on moving forward, not figuring out why failure happened. Dwelling on causes just reinforces negative circuits.

• Focus on strengths and potential. People perform better when their strengths are engaged.

• Offer practical suggestions, not judgments. Say “Have you considered X or Y?” rather than “You should have done X.”

• Set clear expectations for future performance and offer support if needed. But allow the person to come up with their own solutions as much as possible.

The key is to avoid criticism and blame, and instead facilitate a productive discussion that helps the person gain insight, clarity and a plan to improve going forward. With a more constructive approach, even below-par performance can become a opportunity for growth.

Here is a summary of the provided passage:

  • Enrico, Alison’s boss, is using a self-directed approach to give Alison feedback on her performance in a recent marketing event.
  • Enrico focuses first on establishing trust and rapport by checking that Alison is in the right state of mind, setting clear boundaries on time, and assuring her that he is not there to criticize her.
  • Enrico then asks Alison to rate her own performance on a scale of 1 to 10. This keeps the focus on metrics rather than details.
  • Alison realizes she could have asked for help, but didn’t want to lose face.
  • Enrico encourages Alison to turn this insight into a habit by reminding her and checking in regularly.
  • The main strategies Enrico uses are:
  • Letting Alison do most of the thinking
  • Staying out of details
  • Focusing on solutions rather than problems
  • Helping Alison turn her insights into habits
  • Overall, this approach builds trust and rapport between Enrico and Alison, and helps Alison learn and improve her performance, rather than just telling her what she did wrong.

Here is a summary of the key points about using the Six Steps to improve team performance:

• The leader’s role is to facilitate the team’s thinking, not dictate ideas. They should establish permission, use placement frequently, and ask thinking questions.

• The leader should steer the team toward solutions, using the Choose Your Focus model to stay focused on solutions over problems.

• The leader should provide positive feedback when team members meet expectations to reinforce good performance.

• Setting stretch goals can bond the team together and motivate them to perform at a higher level. The CREATE model can help structure goal setting.

• Placement is very useful for keeping team conversations on track and maximizing efficiency. The leader should use placement regularly throughout meetings.

• Clarifying can help simplify complex team discussions and get to the essence of what needs to be achieved.

• Following the CREATE model at the start of team meetings can ensure the team understands the current reality and has a clear plan to move forward.

In summary, the Six Steps - especially placement, clarifying and models like CREATE and Choose Your Focus - can provide a structure and tools for the leader to greatly improve the effectiveness of a team’s thinking and collaboration.

Here’s a summary of the key points:

• The Six Steps will not help you control your teenager, they require letting go of control and trusting them to find their own answers. However, they can make conversations less charged and more fulfilling.

• Children learn by doing the thinking, not being told what to do. Engaging them in reflection and questions can facilitate this.

• Giving positive feedback is important for children’s development and wellbeing. Look for opportunities to notice and acknowledge what they’re doing well.

• Asking permission before having difficult conversations helps set a more collaborative tone. Be prepared for them to initially say no, and ask permission to ask again later.

• Using placement shares your intentions before getting into the details, which can help deescalate emotionally charged topics.

• Ask thinking questions that facilitate their own reflection, rather than telling them what to think or do.

• Following the CREATE model - Clarify, Reframe, Evaluate options, Achieve insight, Try a new approach, Evaluate progress - can help structure productive conversations to stimulate new thinking in your teen.

Does this cover the main points adequately? Let me know if you’d like me to expand on or modify anything in the summary.

Here’s a summary of the key points from the book:

  1. The best way to improve performance is by helping people think better, not by telling them what to do. Leaders should let others do the thinking and help them think in more efficient ways.

  2. Focus on solutions, not problems. Looking for solutions activates the brain’s higher-level thinking and decision-making skills.

  3. Questioning is more effective than telling. Asking the right questions helps people discover their own answers and solutions.

  4. Placement matters. Positioning yourself as a guide on the side, not a sage on the stage, helps move people toward their potential.

  5. Current reality matters. Understanding someone’s current reality and context is key to helping them envision and explore new possibilities.

  6. Alternatives empower. Exploring multiple alternative solutions activates creativity and motivation.

  7. Tapping energy is more effective than forcing action. Helping people commit to capitalizing on their insights unleashes their own energy and motivation for change.

  8. Brain science shows that people learn best when they can construct their own meanings. Leaders can facilitate that process through asking questions and creating the right environment.

  9. An organization changes from the inside out, through developing new ways of thinking and communicating that spread throughout the system.

In summary, the book advocates a “quiet leadership” approach that focuses on improving people’s thinking rather than telling them what to do. This facilitates change and growth from within individuals and across organizations.

Here is a summary of the key points from the glossary:

  1. Focus on solutions instead of problems. This helps create new ways of thinking.

  2. Give positive feedback to reinforce new behaviors and habits.

  3. Have a structured conversation process to move the conversation forward effectively.

  4. Listen for people’s potential, insights, and passion. Don’t focus on the details.

  5. When speaking, be succinct, specific, and generous to make your point clear.

  6. Follow the “Dance of Insight” conversation model: permission, placement, thinking questions, and clarifying. This helps elicit insights from others.

  7. Use the CREATE model in conversations to improve thinking in 5 steps: Current Reality, Explore Alternatives, and Tap Their Energy.

  8. Follow up using the FEELING model to cement new habits: Facts, Emotions, Encourage, Learning, Implications, New Goal.

  9. Focus on process over content in conversations. Make things explicit. Focus on what’s useful, not just interesting. Reconstruct versus deconstruct. Ask learning questions, not “why” questions.

  10. Neuroscience concepts: neurons and synapses form neural maps and circuitry that represent ways of thinking. Working memory holds information temporarily.

The summary highlights the most important models and concepts to keep in mind when trying to improve others’ thinking and create new habits through conversation.

Here is a summary of the key points regarding your conscious mind and working memory in the passage:

• Our working memory is relatively small, holding around 7 ideas at a time. Grouping ideas helps us remember more.

• Working memory tends to fade after a short time; we don’t remember things like phone numbers once we’re done using them, though we remember them while dialing.

• Hardwiring refers to thoughts, skills, or memories that persist longer. This is known as long-term potentiation (LTP), a form of neuroplasticity that strengthens neuron connections when they’re activated together.

• Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to rewire based on attention. Genes dictate the overall architecture, but the system is highly flexible within that.

• Neural Darwinism refers to the fact that stronger synapses are kept while weaker ones are pruned, shaping neural pathways.

• Where we focus attention increases connections in that brain region.

• Reframing means looking at a situation from a different perspective.

• Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and Solutions-Focused Therapy are therapeutic approaches that target thoughts, behaviors, and strengths.

That covers the main points regarding your conscious mind and working memory summarized from the passage. Let me know if you need any clarification or have additional questions.

Here is a summary of the provided text:

The text discusses neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to rewire itself, as the basis for transforming performance. It suggests a 6 step process for achieving performance breakthrough:

  1. Prepare the brain by focusing attention and practicing mindfulness.

  2. Predict by making hypotheses about what you want to achieve. Predictions activate the brain’s goal-oriented behaviors.

  3. Practice in chunks and then linking those chunks. Continuous practice strengthens neural connections.

  4. Persevere through setbacks and discomfort. This is essential to drive neuroplastic changes in the brain.

  5. Perspective by visualizing success, leveraging insights, and building awareness of mental models. This helps reshape neural networks.

  6. Progress by getting feedback, coaching, and focusing attention on outcomes. This drive neuroplastic changes and performance improvement.

Other key points:

  • The brain learns most efficiently in four phases: Preparation, Incubation, Insight, and Verification.

  • Gamma waves produced during “aha moments” of insight are linked to neuroplastic changes.

  • Focusing attention drives neuroplastic changes, so focused attention is critical during practice.

  • Coaching and feedback help maintain focus and motivation, allowing progress and performance improvement.

  • Eliminating punishment and instead focusing on positive outcomes can more effectively drive transformation.

Does this look like a fair and reasonable summary of the main ideas in the provided text? Let me know if you would like me to clarify or modify anything in my response.

Here is a summary of the provided text:

This article discusses the best ways to recognize employees for good performance at work. The main points are:

  1. According to a large workplace study, employee recognition is essential for satisfaction and retention. Praise and acknowledgment ranked among the top factors for a productive work environment.

  2. Emotional intelligence and developing social relationships also heavily impact employee satisfaction.

  3. Research shows that frequent and constructive performance feedback is critical for growth and peak performance, especially if it occurs soon after the good work. Positive feedback is most effective when it is specific and sincere.

  4. Simple acts of acknowledgment, like saying “thank you,” genuinely expressing appreciation, and providing visibility for good work, are highly valued by employees and encourage continued high performance.

  5. Celebrating employee achievements and milestones also serves as an important form of recognition.

In summary, simple yet sincere and frequent acts of acknowledgment, positive feedback, and celebration of accomplishments are the most effective ways for leaders to recognize and retain top employees. The article outlines tips and research to support using these recognition strategies in the workplace.

Here is a summary of Quiet Leadership by David Rock:

This book outlines an approach to leadership called “quiet leadership.” It argues that traditional command-and-control leadership styles are no longer effective and that the new paradigm must focus on coaching and developing people.

The book proposes six main principles of quiet leadership:

  1. Focus on thinking, not orders. Leaders should help people develop their thinking skills and ability to learn.

  2. Listen for potential, not just problems. Leaders should listen to understand people’s potential, not just fix problems.

  3. Choose your words carefully. Leaders should communicate clearly and concisely with intent and generosity.

  4. Ask questions, don’t give answers. Leaders should draw out people’s potential through questioning rather than giving direct advice.

  5. Listen for openings, not arguments. Leaders should listen for opportunities to make a positive difference rather than look for problems.

  6. Focus on possibilities, not problems. Leaders should see problems as opportunities and frame issues in terms of potential solutions.

The book argues that these principles, combined with neuroscience research on brain plasticity and emotions, can help leaders create more effective and sustainable organizations by developing the potential of their people.

In summary, Quiet Leadership proposes an approach to leadership focused on thinking, listening, communication and fostering growth and potential in people through coaching and development. It argues this model is better suited for today’s complex environment than traditional command-and-control leadership.

Here is a summary of the text:

The text discusses how leaders can improve employees’ thinking and performance. It argues that recent discoveries about the brain show that:

• The brain is a connection machine that wires together neurons.

• No two brains are exactly alike due to differences in wiring and experiences.

• The brain hardwires everything it can for efficiency.

• This hardwiring drives our automatic perceptions and behaviors.

• It is difficult to understand and deconstruct our wiring.

• But it is easy to create new wiring through experiences and interactions.

The text proposes six steps that leaders can take to transform employees’ performance:

  1. Think About Thinking - Focus on solutions, remain positive, and prioritize process over content.

  2. Listen for Potential - Listen actively to understand employees’ potential.

  3. Speak with Intent - Communicate in a succinct, specific, and generous manner.

  4. Dance Toward Insight - Help employees generate insight through permission, placement, questioning, and clarifying.

  5. Create New Thinking - Guide employees through considering current reality, alternative options, and tapping their energy.

  6. Follow Up - Review facts, emotions, encouragement, learning, implications, and next goals.

The text then provides examples of how leaders can use the six steps to help employees solve problems, make decisions, receive feedback, and improve team and organizational performance.

In conclusion, the text argues that these brain-based approaches can help leaders improve employees’ thinking and performance. The Six Steps provide a practical framework for transformation.

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